Saturday, November 01, 2008

Memorial gift Helped Fund Cherry Valley Analysis

Gift in Maggy Price Potter name supported study of the valley she loved

Snydersville, Pa.
- Oct. 31, 2008 - A major gift in memory of the late Margaret Price Potter (Maggy), of Snydersville, to the Nature Conservancy supported a study that looked at whether the environmental and economic conditions are right for a new national wildlife refuge in Pennsylvania's Cherry Valley.

The Conservancy's efforts contributed to the scientific foundation of a report, issued Oct. 31 by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service that recommends moving forward with establishment of a refuge in the Monroe County valley, not far from where Maggy found joy in riding her beloved Arabian horses.

The gift by John S. Potter Jr. in memory of his late wife supported a year-long study evaluating the biological value of the natural communities within Cherry Valley, and the environmental and socio-economic feasibility of establishing a national wildlife refuge in the area.

"I wanted to do something outdoors, something that would have a real impact on the land in northeastern Pennsylvania," said Potter, noting that Cherry Valley is just 15 minutes from the 189-acre farm where Maggy raised and rode her horses. She was well known through out the area as a champion endurance rider.

Potter, a retired international banker, said he wasn't aware of the status of the long-standing effort to establish a new national wildlife refuge before he contacted The Nature Conservancy about a gift in his late wife's memory, but "Cherry Valley turned out to be the kind of thing we wanted to do."

"Cherry Valley is a lovely area and it’s well worth preserving," commented Potter, who traces his relationship with the Conservancy back to the 1980s and his native Colorado.

If approved, the refuge at Cherry Valley will be the first national wildlife refuge in the Northeast states in at least a decade and only the third federal refuge in Pennsylvania.

U.S. Rep. Paul E. Kanjorski (Pa.-D-11th) and Rep. Charles Dent (R-15) co-sponsored a bill in 2005 to consider Cherry Valley as a prospective national wildlife refuge. A year later Congress approved the Cherry Valley National Wildlife Refuge Study Act, which required the completion of the study by this month.

In a report based on that study and released today, the service evaluated the potential and offered three alternatives, including the "preferred alternative" of establishing a refuge protecting up to 20,000 acres in Cherry Valley. The other alternatives include a smaller refuge or taking no action on the proposal.

The service worked closely with the Conservancy to establish the scientific foundation for the study. The full study team also included representatives from the Pennsylvania Game Commission, Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission, Monroe County Conservation District, Monroe County Planning Commission, National Park Service, East Stroudsburg University, Northampton Community College, and Pocono Avian Research Center.

The Cherry Valley area harbors several federally endangered species, including northeastern bulrush and dwarf wedge mussel. Endangered bog turtles also inhabit the valley. Rare plants in the valley include spreading globeflower, a member of the buttercup family, and grass-of-Parnassus.

The southern edge of the valley is formed by the Kittatiny Ridge, a globally important flyway for birds of prey, including bald eagles and broad-winged hawks during their annual fall migration. Numerous neo-tropical songbird species, such as Cerulean warbler, nest in the forests along Kittatinny Ridge.

While Maggy didn't ride her Arabian horses in the Cherry Valley, it was the type of place she valued as an outdoorswoman and champion endurance rider.

Maggy was a member of the U.S. Equestrian Team that in 1992 brought home a silver medal in endurance riding from the World Equestrian Games in Barcelona, Spain. She personally captured a bronze medal. She also was a past president and long-time member of the board of directors of the American Endurance Ride Conference, the governing body for the sport in the U.S.

Monroe County residents also knew her as the widow of the late Ray Price, of Ray Price Motors in Stroudsburg.

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